Thursday, February 11, 2016

Meet James Roback, Red Cross Volunteer

     James Roback, a 19 year old volunteer at the Western New York Chapter of the American Red Cross, is not your typical 19 year old. Originally from Utica, NY, James moved to the Buffalo area after he graduated high school to attend Erie Community College for emergency management. Once he started college, he was really busy between school work and his job as a ride operator at Darien Lake. But when that seasonal job came to an end, he needed something else to do, and that is when his Red Cross journey began.
Volunteer James Roback installing smoke
alarms as part of the Home Fire Campaign

  "I looked up the Red Cross on the Internet while looking for a paid position, and saw they were in need of volunteers to help install smoke alarms," James said. He immediately applied for the volunteer position, while also applying for paid positions at other companies. Just one day later, he was offered a job at a hotel and also heard back about becoming a volunteer.

  "Instead of choosing between the hotel job and volunteering with the Red Cross, I decided I should try to do both, while still going school," James said

   At the Red Cross, James has various roles that he fulfills. As a volunteer, James in usually in the Buffalo office everyday from 9 to 5. When not serving as an office assistant, his primary job is to go out into the community and install smoke alarms as part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. Clearly that doesn't keep him busy enough, however, because he is also currently training to become a member of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT), the volunteers that help families at the scenes of home fires and other disasters. He also helps out with the Pillowcase Project, a Disney-funded project that teaches kids in grades 3-5 about emergency preparedness.

    In just four months as a Red Cross volunteer, James has installed over 175 smoke alarms and has put in over 150 volunteer hours, while working a job and going to school.

Volunteer James Roback hard at work at the
WNY Chapter offices
  "It keeps me busy," he says. "Volunteering allows me to continuously meet new people, and I love that I'm able to provide people with one less thing to worry about, such as installing a new smoke alarm to keep their home safer." James enjoys giving back to his community, and says the stories and experiences from his time as a volunteer are something that's hard to find anywhere else. He's hoping that this will help him find a job in emergency response in the future, either with the Red Cross or another agency.

  James is just one of the many dedicated volunteers here at the Red Cross, the people who make up 90% of the workforce and fulfill our humanitarian mission. The Red Cross is always looking for new volunteers, and has opportunities to fit every skill set and schedule. You can go to and apply to be a volunteer today.

-Jacquelyn Fricano, Communications Intern
American Red Cross, WNY Chapter